DETAIL : George LAMBERT  Russia 1873 � Australia 1930  'Chesham Street' [Chesney Street; The Doctor; Harley Street] 1910  oil on canvas National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased in 1993 DETAIL : George LAMBERT  Russia 1873 � Australia 1930  'The convex mirror' c.1916  oil with pencil on wood panel private collection
George LAMBERT | The Tirranna picnic race meeting

Russia 1873 – Australia 1930
Australia 1887-1900; England 1900-01; France 1901-02; England 1902-21; Australia from 1921
The Tirranna picnic race meeting
[The Tirranna picnic race meeting]
oil on canvas
Framed 94.0 (h) x 170.5 (w) x 7.5 (d) cm
76.5 (h) x 152.5 (w) cm
signed 'G.W.Lambert/ 192-/ 1929 unfinished' lower left
The University of Melbourne Art Collection, gift of the Russell and Mab Grimwade Bequest in 1973
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In The Tirranna picnic race meeting Lambert presented a then ideal aspect of Australian life, depicting the elegant, wealthy pastoralist class in their rolling sheep country around Canberra, enjoying horse-riding and country racing. The scene is evocative of mood and incident: an army band plays music; women promenade in their best dresses, large hats and parasols; men in grey suits and hats adopt poses or chat with the women, while jockeys prepare their horses. Each element of the painting contributes to the overall sensation of movement and animation, from the gathering clouds to the informal arrangement of figures and horses.

Lambert visited Michelago, south of Canberra, in 1922, during which time he attended the Tirranna picnic race meeting back north, about six miles out of Goulburn. It was a significant annual social event at the time, located on the Tirranna property. It had been established in 1855 by men from local pastoral families. Amongst the prominent figures in the picture were Mr Walter N. Gunn, for very many years honorary secretary of the race meeting, and Mr Campbell Gibson, the owner of Tirranna in the 1920s (Grimwade file).

Russell Grimwade, to whom Lambert lent this – unfinished – painting, wrote to Lambert on 6 November 1929 expressing his enthusiasm about it: ‘Glorious Tirranna  is hanging safely on our wall and although  not … lit artificially seems to have an accession of colour & vivacity over our last view of it. It becomes our room, pleases us both immensely, gives us pride to possess it, fascinates our friends and glorifies its creator – what more could it do? Do come and finish it soon’ (ML MSS 97/3, pp.131–2).

Lambert never completed the picture, before his death in May 1930. Grimwade purchased the painting from his estate for 600 guineas.

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